What is 'trauma' and how is its history connected to that of war in the twentieth century? How have stories of trauma become a feature of contemporary society, and why? This module traces the history of trauma from the age of 'total war', through the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts to the present, linking the history and sociology of medicine to the cultural and social history of modern warfare. It looks at how medical understandings of trauma have changed, and how they reflect the social norms of their time, from the late nineteenth century concern with hysteria, through the discovery of 'shell-shock' in the First World War, to Gulf War Syndrome and PTSD in the 1990s. The module will investigate the rise and circulation of trauma culture in art, film, and personal testimony of war. It concludes with reflection on the age of catastrophe, developing a critical sociological perspective on the contemporary fascination with trauma.
Category: Department of Sociology